CDW gets them on the phone

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CDW Corp. is a b-to-b technology marketer. Its customers and prospects are early adopters, and the company engages in plenty of online marketing of all kinds. However, CDW is having a surprising amount of success marketing with a 135-year-old technology: the telephone. “Telemarketing is an area where we've placed a lot of time and attention the last year or two,” said Mike Weir, CDW's senior manager-data center solutions marketing. “It's increasingly important to us.” For its telemarketing program, CDW uses CNET Direct, a unit of CBS Interactive. CNET Direct, which is affiliated with CNET, TechRepublic and other tech-oriented websites, offers integrated direct marketing programs and helps marketers in the U.S. as well as in Australia, China, France and elsewhere around the globe. CDW uses CNET Direct for a number of marketing communications programs that promote the company's virtualization, security, unified communications, cloud and other offerings. CDW's integrated program revolves around the TechRepublic site. The program uses banners that direct prospects to content such as videos, webinars and white papers. Telemarketing, however, is also a critical part of the program. “Telemarketing helps bridge a gap,” Weir said. The gap he referred to is between the leads that are ready to be forwarded to CDW's sales team and those that require more nurturing. CDW gauges prospects' willingness to buy through short online questionnaires that ask, for instance, about their budgets and their buying time frames. Prospects that have active budgets and are ready to buy relatively soon are passed directly to the CDW sales team. Prospects higher up in the sales funnel are given to CBS Interactive's telemarketing squad. For CDW, CNET Direct over the past year or so has attempted to contact 16,000 leads. CNET telemarketers have contacted 30% of them. Of these completed contacts, 70% have been converted in some way; they have, for example, downloaded a white paper, registered for a webinar or even been qualified as a sales-ready lead. Weir said having a third party make the calls has been very effective in having prospects share information. He also said the program is selective. “We're not bombarding them with a bunch of calls,” he said. Weir said the telemarketing program has helped boost CDW's sales-ready leads by as much as 12% in 12 months, which adds up to more than 1,000 additional leads going to the sales staff on an annual basis.
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